Ginger and turmeric have been prized for centuries, not only for their spicy flavor when they’re added to curries, stir-fries and desserts, but also for their anti-inflammatory properties. They’ve long been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine.
Ginger’s rich phytochemistry includes many beneficial antioxidant compounds. “Ginger has [starring] potential for treating a number of ailments including degenerative disorders (arthritis and rheumatism), digestive health (indigestion, constipation and ulcer), cardiovascular disorders (atherosclerosis and hypertension), vomiting, diabetes mellitus and cancer,” according to a study in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Also, a University of Miami study of knee pain in osteoarthritis patients concluded that ginger extract might someday be a substitute for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Turmeric contains the anti-inflammatory compound curcumin. Several studies have shown that the curcumin in turmeric restrains the activity of molecules that play a role in inflammation, and other studies have shown that turmeric can combat depression, rheumatoid arthritis and digestive problems.
Turmeric may need to be combined with other spices like black pepper to increase the body’s ability to absorb it, but that’s not an issue if fresh turmeric root is used rather than the ground spice.
Look for fresh turmeric root in the produce area of well-stocked grocery stores. Turmeric looks similar to ginger root, but it’s smaller with a bright orange color.
After peeling ginger and turmeric roots with a vegetable peeler or knife, you can grate them, mince them in a garlic press or grind them with a mortar and pestle. Or, just toss them into a high-speed blender.
Both spices taste great when added to curries and stir-fries, but they can also be easily thrown into pumpkin pies, spice cookies, fruit salads and soups.
For a cold spring soup with anti-inflammatory spices, make this springy, zingy honeydew melon soup with fresh ginger and turmeric. Serve it in a glass bowl or cup so you can see its bright hue. Or for
a cocktail party, serve appetizer shooters of this soup, garnished with fresh edible flowers or pea blossoms.
Above photo by Kyle Edwards
Originally published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue